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Lewis Capaldi Battles Tourette’s and Anxiety — and Gets Support from Elton John — in Revealing Documentary

Lewis Capaldi has always wanted to sing. Ballads like “Someone You Loved” and “Before You Go,” which show off his powerful voice and heart-wrenching lyrics, made the Scottish artist a household name over the last few years — but fame and success haven’t been easy for him. His new documentary How I’m Feeling Now, directed by Joe Pearlman, offers an inside look at Capaldi’s career and sheds light on the the personal battles he’s faced while trying to finish his long-awaited second album.

“My first album was as close to dreams coming true as you could possibly get but as soon as the first album does well it’s like ‘You gotta do it again though,’” Capaldi says in the film, referring to his massive 2019 LP Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent. “You can only be the next big thing for like a year.”

The documentary captures Capaldi in his most vulnerable moments: It addresses his struggles with mental health and tracks his lengthy journey coping with Tourette’s, anxiety, and imposter syndrome. From being locked away with his parents during the pandemic to an email he received from Elton John about imposter’s syndrome, here’s everything we learned from Netflix’s Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now:

1. Elton John sent Capaldi an email after he heard about his imposter syndrome from Ed Sheeran

Capaldi has trouble understanding his stardom. But two of his famous friends tried to convince him that he’s meant to be here. In one scene, Capaldi remembers telling Ed Sheeran about his struggles with imposter syndrome. By the next day, he has an email from Elton John reminding him of his talent.

“‘Dear Lewis, I was talking to Ed yesterday and we were talking about you. He said you were feeling a bit like an imposter. BOLLOCKS! You’re totally your own man and your album is still rising all over the world,” the email reads. “And it’s your first album. You write beautiful songs that resonate with millions of people. You’re great live and a wonderful singer… You are also very funny and original. I mean this sincerely. Stop it now please, or I’ll come out to Suffolk and bring out the latent homo in you. Buckets of love, Elton.”

But not even John could relieve Capaldi’s anxiety. “It’s nice to hear this stuff but I obviously still feel a bit like an imposter. I don’t think it’s ever gonna go away,” he says. “Imposter syndrome bleeds into every decision you make and everything you do.”

2. Capaldi gets nervous about his songwriting, even when collaborating with Dan Nigro

Capaldi’s songs are known for being tearjerkers. The success of hits like “Someone I Loved” only made him more insecure, and he often overthinks everything he writes. “I’m not confident in my abilities as a songwriter,” Capaldi says at one point. “And it’s gotten worse the more success that’s come.”

The film captures Capaldi visiting a studio in Los Angeles with Dan Nigro and Amy Allen for a songwriting session. His Tourette’s syndrome, which was undiagnosed at the time, gets in the way of making music as his twitches become painful.

​”It feels like this is fucking hard and I’m shit at writing songs,” he says. “My twitch that I have gets worse when I sit down and play piano. Physically painful. I get really short of breath and shit like that. My back fucking kills me when I do that, which is frightful.”

He later reflects on the trip to L.A., which was meant to help him write songs for the album. “My own confidence in my own abilities is lower now despite the fact that we’ve just done something quite incredible. It still stems from that ‘I won’t be able to write any good stuff,’” he says. “‘Let’s go to L.A. where all the best writers or producers so they come up with magic.’ Doesn’t work like that.”

3. Capaldi avoided treating his Tourette’s for a long time

For a while, Capaldi kept pushing back treatment, describing his tics as a normal part of his daily life. But the twitches got worse once he became famous. “When I’m in traffic it flares up. When I’m exhausted or after a big thing, it gets very bad,” he says.

 In one intense scene, he fights with his dad about addressing his tics. Capaldi wants to ignore them while his dad wants his son to take action. “It comes and goes. It’s part of life. Get used to it,” Capaldi tells him. “I can’t ignore it,” his dad replies shaking his head.

It takes a serious onstage flare-up during a Wembley Stadium performance to get Capaldi to act. His dad recounts the concert tearfully: “He fucking stopped singing. I bolted down the stairs. The crowds cheering… [It’s] breaking my heart.”

Capaldi eventually takes a four-month pause to completely focus on his mental health. He starts taking medication and seeing a therapist to help. The documentary checks in with him the week after the Tourette’s diagnosis: “I got told I have Tourette’s a week ago. Do you know how many people I’ve told I have Tourette’s? It’s outrageous,” he says with a laugh in the film. “People think I’m bragging … ‘I know I’m not dying.’”

4. “Before You Go” was written about Capaldi’s aunt’s suicide

One of Capaldi’s most powerful songs wasn’t actually inspired by a breakup. It was written about Capaldi watching his mother grieve after her sister Pat’s suicide. 

“You feel so guilty you didn’t manage to stop it,” Carol says with tears in her eyes. ”You can try and help and give them support but unless they want help there’s not much more you can do about it.” She can be heard crying offscreen in one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film.

The incident happened when Capaldi was a kid. He’d been out of the house when his father found Carol’s sister dead. When reflecting on the lyrics of “Before You Go,” Mark says the lyrics are “questions Carol definitely asks her on a daily basis.” In one scene, Capaldi performs the massive song on stage, while Carol is seen mouthing along to the lyrics.

“He sees humanity, that darkness, and he can vocalize it,” Mark says.

5. Capaldi is so close to his parents, his mom picked him up after a one-night stand

The pandemic forced Capaldi to go back home to Whitburn, Scotland, which he describes as the “antithesis of all the fucking mad shit.” He never expected to return home for so long, but the film follows him as he records parts of his second album from his parents shed. Capaldi cleans after his dog, washes his own laundry and the dishes, and helps around the house while he’s home with his parents.

His mother, Carol, is Capaldi’s first layer of support: “I don’t want him to change. I don’t want us to change. It wouldn’t be worth it.” Though his father Mark is sarcastic and keeps things real, he has his back and describes driving his son from gig to gig early on. At one point, Capaldi plays his parents. a song he wrote and gets feedback: “I wouldn’t say it’s one of your better ones,” says his mom.

“It’s shite,” says dad Mark more cynically. “You asked me my opinion so I’ll give it to you.”


But there are moments that show they’re tight-knit bond. They’re so close that in one scene, Capaldi’s mom recounts how she had to pick him up from a one-night stand because he was having a panic attack. (Capaldi says he wishes she’d never brought that up before letting out a laugh.)

Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now is available on Netflix April 5.

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